by Brian & Gill Armstrong

The West Somerset Vale Hunt held its annual point to point meeting at Cothelstone, near Taunton, on Saturday. 53 horses contested the seven races.

The opening Hunt race went to Miss Karingaroo, who asserted after the last under 21-year-old Seale-Hayne Agricultural College student William White. This was a first-ever winner for owners Andrew Pope and Julie Pocock from Stolford on the Somerset coast and was a real family occasion as the horse was led up by Andrew’s 17-year-old daughter Becky.

Kildysart Lady led approaching the last to take the Restricted race. This was a ninth career win for rider Ben Woodhouse, 22, who works as a pupil assistant to Richard “Johnson” White at Philip Hobbs’ Bilbrook stables. Kildysart Lady is owned and trained at Enmore by Charlotte Budd, who bought the horse from Chris and Sue Popham two years ago. Charlotte will be familiar to many readers as Charlotte Brew, the first lady to ride in the Grand National, on Barony Fort in 1977.

Sir William took the Mixed Open, leading five out under Richard Woolacott and holding the persistent challenge of Gladiatorial by two lengths. Sir William, who had received back treatment since his last run, is trained at South Molton by Emely Thompson and was winning his sixth race for retired South Molton farmer Richard Westacott, who bought the horse from breeder Len Bond after seeing him run in a Mounsey Hill Gate point-to-point four years ago.

The Novice Riders Intermediate race went to Polka to give 21-year-old Wembdon rider Jo Buck the third win of her career. Polka is owned and trained at Fitzhead near Bishops Lydeard by semi-retired farmer Gerald Greenway, who bought the horse from Percy Norman while enjoying a drink at the 2001 Tiverton point-to-point at Chipley Park. Polka will now be aimed at the Devon & Somerset Staghounds Members race before running in a Newton Abbot Novices Hunters Chase.

The Dodson & Horrell PPORA Club Members’ race was won by Rhythm King and Godfrey Maundrell, who led throughout the last circuit and, despite hanging, held the renewed challenge of early leader Father Jim by a length. Rhythm King was bought out of Jim Old’s yard in September 2003 and was a ninth win of the season for Godfrey and an eighth from just four horses for first-season trainer Paul Thompson, 30, who is based at Godfrey’s Marlborough stables.

Division One of the Open Maiden race was won impressively by So Peaceful who was in the van throughout and forged well clear under Robert Stephens. This was a first-ever winner for Wootton Courtenay trainer Belinda Powell and for her partner Ian Stephens and mother Sue Jones, who bought the horse from Robert Pocock after the 2002 point-to-point season.

Darren Edwards took Division Two of the Open Maiden race on Lady Widd, trained by Sue Popham just a mile from the course at West Bagborough. Lady Widd was bought at Doncaster in 2003 for “The Friends of Eddy Hall”, a 20-strong syndicate of Millfield Prep School teachers and their families and friends headed by Tim Harris. The syndicate derives its name from Edgarley Hall, the original name of the school.